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A final dispatch from Dusseldorf

By Jonathan Sweet

Boot Dusseldorf continues through January 29, but Monday was my last day as I’ll begin my 14-hour journey back home Tuesday.

The biggest takeaway from the show is the scope and organization of the show. It was a huge undertaking, with more than 1,800 exhibitors spread across 2.3 million square feet. I managed to at least walk through all 16 halls.

Considering the size, it was amazing to see the organization and efficiency. We could learn a lot in the U.S. from Dusseldorf about how to do a show. Dusseldorf does have some advantages over many of the U.S. cities that host our major shows, of course. It’s a relatively compact city with great public transportation. You can be from the airport to the show in 15 minutes via train or auto. You can take the train to the central city in 15 minutes from the show. That gives organizers a significant advantage over a Miami or Chicago.

Some other final thoughts:

Language

By the end of the trip, I felt embarrassed by the fact that almost everybody I met here could speak English as well as (let’s be honest – better) than many Americans. From talking to some locals, my understanding is that all students have to learn English and French, and most add a fourth language.

Pontoons

I mentioned this earlier in the show, but the pontoon market is basically non-existent in Europe. The only pontoon boat exhibitor I came upon was Kolvenbach B.V., the European and Scandinavian distributor for Brunswick’s Harris brand.

In a brief discussion with a representative from the company, I learned that they feel like it has potential, but it’s a tough sell right now. It’s a different boat and something that is basically unknown to many Europeans. I noticed it myself when watching people come up to the booth and poke and prod the boats and knock on the toons with confused looks on their faces.

Environmentalism

A lot of discussion at Boot Dusseldorf on protecting the environment in general and the oceans and waterways in particular.

A lot of the boat builders I talked to said there is a much higher demand for electric propulsion here in Europe, with many lakes banning the use of gas-powered motors.

Dr. Christoph Ballin, CEO of Torqeedo, said they are experiencing growing demand for their products across the world, but that Europe is ground zero. He said Monday that the growth of electric vehicles from companies like BMW and Tesla is a great sign of the potential for electric boats.

The "Love Your Ocean” campaign was an important theme of the event, with a number of displays and educational sessions around that theme. Monday night featured a “Blue Motion Night” with guest Prince Albert II of Monaco recognizing efforts to preserve the world’s oceans. The prince founded the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in June 2006, in order to draw attention to dangers to our environment.

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